In addition to scouting the rest of the league, it’s also important for every major-league organization to scout its own farm system. This can be crucial when it comes to making trades so that the front office truly knows what it’s holding. I’ll be doing a little bit of that today as we look back at some of my analyses from the 2015 season to see what went right and what went wrong. Unlike when a scout comes in to watch a series and maybe only gets a few looks at the guy he really wants to see, I’ll be cherry-picking the choice cuts for us here.
On Yasmany Tomas, from June 11th: At his size, he’s unlikely to make posting a .420 BABIP for an extended period of time a habit, and without power and patience his battling line is headed for a crash course when the BABIP dust clears.
It was clear back in June that Tomas needed to alter his approach if he was going to avoid collapse, but like a fiend he just couldn’t quit, and it certainly wasn’t pretty when the magic BABIP dust cleared. In Tomas’ last 49 games of the season (36 starts), he posted a .209/.228/.329 line with a .296 BABIP in 162 plate appearances. His AVG got worse in each of the final three months of the season and completely fell off a cliff in September, when he hit .156. Some players are able to take advantage of tired arms or call-ups on the mound in September, but Tomas had his worst month. Perhaps he was fatigued from his first season in the majors as he only started 12 games in September, his lowest number in a month since April.
On Ian Desmond, from June 17th: Since the start of 2013, Desmond is hitting .260/.313/.426 with a 162-game average of 22 home runs and 20 steals, which isn’t far from his preseason PECOTA projection at all.
At the time, Desmond was hitting .228/.273/.351 while playing terribly in the field, but he was able to recover somewhat the rest of the way. Though it didn’t save the Nationals from missing the playoffs, Desmond closing the season with a .238/.303/.410 line over his last 90 games with Washington was at least mildly encouraging; it at least approximated his line since the beginning of 2013. Desmond likely won’t ever return to the player he was in 2012, but that doesn’t make him a lost cause, especially at the shortstop position where power is sparse.
On Jaime Garcia, from June 30th: His FIP sits at 3.01 on the season so far and could be a reasonable expectation for his ERA the rest of the way… The question of his option being picked up for next season likely won’t come down to how he pitches the rest of the way, but rather how healthy he is while doing so.
Garcia’s ERA the rest of the season was 2.87, and he pitched his way a career-best 2.43 mark. More importantly, he was able to make 20 starts after beginning the season on the disabled list, and the Cardinals rewarded him by picking up his 2016 option. Garcia might be discounted in fantasy for the rest of his career because the possibility of injury seems to always loom around him, but after a healthy and productive second half of the season, he’s certainly put himself back on the radar.
On Yoenis Cespedes, from July 15th: As you can see from Cespedes’ rest-of-season PECOTA projection above, we shouldn’t drastically change our expectations of his performance just because of his hot first half. It’d be one thing if Cespedes had a history of high-BABIP seasons in his past, but he’s only posted a BABIP above .293 once before this year and his career BABIP is merely .306. Unless his high BABIP is a new skill, it’s likely that Cespedes will regress some in the second half and his AVG will suffer as a result, even if he is able to reduce his strikeout percentage.
Well, I was half right. Cespedes didn’t keep up his .347 BABIP as he posted a .291 BABIP over his last 71 games last season. His AVG tumbled to .283, which—though it isn’t as good as his .297 AVG in his first 88 games—was still better than his full season averages in 2014 and 2013. Of course, his AVG took a backseat to his power in the second half, as he blasted 22 home runs and slugged .594 over his last 71 games, but who really saw that coming?
On Andrew Heaney, from July 30th: In addition to his good strikeout and walk numbers so far, Heaney has been particularly adept at preventing hits, allowing just a .204 average against. Unfortunately for his rest-of-season outlook, it appears that he’s not entirely responsible for the lack of hits against him. Heaney’s BABIP against is a mere .239, which is well below league average and unwise to take at face value from a pitcher with only a handful of starts under his belt.
At the time, Heaney had posted a 1.79 ERA in six starts and that went up along with his BABIP. In his last 12 starts, he had a .310 BABIP allowed and his ERA was 4.55. Perhaps more troubling was that he was unable to sustain his strikeout and walk numbers from his first half-dozen starts. In his last 12 starts, he posted an eight percent walk ate and 16 percent strikeout rate, compared to a three percent walk clip and 20 percent strikeout clip in his first half-dozen starts. It all came crashing down for Heaney after a promising beginning.
On Franklin Gutierrez, from August 30th: Gutierrez is hitting .307/.340/.636 (!) with seven home runs in 94 plate appearances. Granted, the sample size is small and there’s no real way for him to keep up those ridiculous numbers, but this is remarkable for a player so many had almost completely written off.
Gutierrez hit .264/.361/.585 the rest of the way, as he came down a just bit from his already ridiculous video-game numbers. He finished the season with 15 home runs and a .328 ISO in 189 plate appearances. Man, what a time to be alive.
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